Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Amazing Spiderman Should be Mormon

I mentioned in my last post that I was watching Spiderman 2 for the first time. I finished it last night and really liked it. The first movie did a fine job introducing Spidey, okay. This one touched me deeply and talked about a number of issues that I've been struggling with too.

But I'm not here to talk about them. I'm here to talk about Peter Parker's issues. His main internal conflict deals with finding balance: how can he be a college student, a part-time photographer, hold down a second job, keep up with a social life (maybe even date), and, oh yes, be a hero? The stress of it all is just too much to that point that he really can't do any of it effectively. Not for the first 15 minutes of the movie anyway.

After watching the first part, I was convinced that Peter Parker needs a couple LDS missionaries to knock on his door, convert him to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and get this boy a calling in the church. Y'see, from the LDS/Mormon point of view, all of us are called to be "saviors on mount Zion" (Obadiah 1:21) - to assist the Savior in His work. (It's ... kind of like being expected to be a superhero without tights or powers - unless you're the guy on the left - just a faith that somehow God will magnify our feeble efforts to reach out, that the Holy Ghost will touch people's hearts, and the Atonement change us all.)

And there are a lot of things that assisting in God's work calls on a member of the Church to do. This goes way beyond 10% tithing and not smoking or drinking. One of our speakers in stake conference, a state trooper, referred to this as the "Marine Corps of churches."
  • Visiting several families monthly and looking after their spiritual and temporal needs;
  • serving in any capacity where asked - in my case an extra 10ish hours on top of the 3 hour Sunday meetings every week, plus priesthood meetings, and that's all just so that the branch president doesn't have to spend that time too on top of the who-knows-how-much extra he voluntarily does; [don't get me wrong: I love my calling and have loved all my other ones]
  • driving up to the temple 1:45 away as often as you can to do vicarious work for the dead [picture right is of the angel Moroni statue on the Hill Cumorah near our local temple, who, incidentally, was modeled by two of Joy's ancestors];
  • taking opportunities to talk to people about the gospel;
  • dropping most anything most anytime when someone calls and needs help;
  • moving 10 families out or around every May and another 10 in or around every September;
  • feeding the missionaries a couple times a month;
  • reserving every Monday night for family time;
  • teach your kids the gospel;
  • make home a temple;
  • daily personal scripture study, prayer, journal writing;
  • search out information about your ancestors so you can do their work in the temple too;
  • filling random service projects and assignments as they come up, usually with little warning;
  • keep up and rotate food storage;
  • get out of debt and make sure you have several months' worth of money for emergencies [which they said long before the current recession]...
And even that doesn't cover all of repenting, "putting off the natural man," and striving to become more like Jesus. At various points, church leaders have reminded us to be politely politically engaged, to plant vegetable gardens, you name it. It is, quite literally, more than any one person can do at one time, particularly when you add family, work, social life, and maybe some me time into the equation, and all of which are assigned important roles this grand, eternal plan we get to participate in.

I think Peter Parker would relate. I think he would gain a lot by associating with a bunch of mere mortals trying to be superheroes. I think that in the process of talking - as our branch does a couple times every semester - about how to balance it all without being overloaded, he would learn to find more of a center in his life.

At a church meeting I was at tonight, one of the speakers mentioned that when Jesus was on the earth, He didn't go around to heal every person around the globe. He didn't even heal everyone in all Israel. He healed those around Him who had faith. I gather there were a lot of sick people at the pool of Bethesda, but only one person healed. As He said to the Pharasees, there were many widows in Israel, but Elijah was sent to just one.

Yes, Pete, you are a superhero. You have a responsibility. "Where much is given, much is required" is how your LDS Uncle Ben would've said it. But you aren't required to give more than you have. None of us has enough to give and do all of it. None. That's one of the reasons we need the Atonement. We do all we can, and we leave the residual in God's hands. With great power comes great responsibility, but not all responsibility. You don't have all power. Don't take on all responsibility.

Prof. Stephen E. Robinson likened it to weight-lifting: you keep adding weights until you can't do anymore, and you lift that weight until it becomes easier and then you can add some more. Your schooling, Peter, your jobs, and even some down time, are essential parts to making you a more effective Spiderman later. [My parents are probably reading this and thinking, "Oh good, the boy was paying attention to something we said."]

I know [oh yeah, from your vast experience playing City of Heroes, I suppose? Pfft.]... Okay, I imagine it's hard to justify seeing Mary Jane's play when there's someone out there who needs you. People need Peter too, not just Spiderman. Sometimes you can delegate the crime fighting to the boys in blue, who really do a good job in the real world. It takes faith and prayer and serious thought to know when to do what - that I do know from experience. I also know from experience something I learned by applying what Brigham Young taught: if you give God the time He needs, He will give you the time you need. I've found that to be true again and again.

Do all you can. Do the best you can. Leave the rest in the Lord's hands "and [He] will give you rest."

No comments: